As the Outback Bowl hits full stride this week with numerous events culminating with the big game on New Year’s Day, staff members from the bowl and area tourism organizations, along with other key partners, have been maximizing a major push through social media platforms to market the Bowl and the Tampa Bay destination to college football fans across the nation.
The effort began its push about a month ago involving the Outback Bowl, Tampa Bay & Company, Visit St Pete Clearwater, Outback Steakhouse and Raymond James Stadium. Once the teams for the bowl were announced December 2nd their social media staff were provided with a “Social Media Game Plan” and resources from images to web links and hash tags to promote not only the game, but the Tampa Bay area destination to their huge fan following. Michigan has more than one million followers on their Facebook page, more than any other team in the country, while South Carolina has more than 350,000.
“We recognize the value of using social media to reach college football fans, and specifically the fans of the teams in our game, to encourage them to follow their team to what we feel is the best bowl destination in the country,” explains Mike Schulze, Director of Communications & Sponsorships for the Outback Bowl. “To do this we wanted to combine the various resources of these organizations working in concert as one with the schools to maximize the exposure for the community. It’s about developing our common goals into an overall game plan that is then implemented from multiple entities and a variety of perspectives.”
Representatives of this social media partnership have been pushing the destination throughout the past month with images, sweepstakes promotions and hash tags such as #VisitTampaBay, #AmericasBestBeaches and #FootballinParadise, the Outback Bowl’s marketing tagline.
With the teams arriving to the area, each organization will have staff at every event throughout the week posting behind the scene messaging and photos of the players and fans enjoying their time in the community. And on game day, a Social Media Command Post will be set up in the Raymond James Stadium press box to maximize interaction with fans throughout the Outback Bowl game.
The Bowls long-time title sponsor, Outback Steakhouse, which has more 2.3 million Facebook fans, has used their platform to market a major promotion involving the winning team of this year’s bowl game to determine which free appetizer customers can receive on January 2nd in their restaurants – the Bloomin Onion if the Gamecocks win, or Coconut Shrimp if the Wolverines win.
“The efforts thus far have produced tremendous results and we expect the next two weeks will be even more beneficial as teams and fans arrive in town and the focus is on our community,” notes Schulze. “I predict this initiative will be a model for other major events here as well as bowls around the country.”
The Outback Bowl celebrates its 27th game this year and will be played on January 1st at 1:00 PM in Raymond James Stadium. Tickets to the game are available through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 and www.Ticketmaster.com. For more information on bowl events and area hotels and attractions go to the Outback Bowl web site at http://www.outbackbowl.com